Interview with Lewis Van Hook
Interview with Lewis Van Hook
Interview Date: March 12, 1992

Camera Rolls: 318:47-52
Sound Rolls: 318:24-27
Interview gathered as part of The Great Depression .
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Editorial Notes:

Preferred citation:
Interview with Lewis Van Hook , conducted by Blackside, Inc. on March 12, 1992, for The Great Depression . Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of The Great Depression.

*
INTERVIEW
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
[camera roll 318:47] [sound roll 318:24] [slate marker visible on screen]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 1
INTERVIEWER:

Lewis Van Hook, take one. Let's start out by talking a little bit, way before you get here to Richmond and start working in the shipyards and your life changes, I'd you to give me a sense of what it was like living in Arkansas on a farm, during the Depression.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Well, it was quite rough, and a way of life of doing without lots of needs. I'll never forget—

INTERVIEWER:

Mister...let me just mention one thing before we, cut for a second.

[cut]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 2
[slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

Take two. OK, tell me, give me a sense of what it was like living on a farm in Arkansas in the middle of the Depression.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, well, it was quite a way of suffering, and as I said, doing without a lot of needs, things that you need. I'll never forget, I grew up on a farm out, my daddy, he was a farmer, and, so, my first job after leaving him on the farm was on the railroad. I left home and got a job on the railroad, and worked, that was what I would, was doing.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

Did you get a sense back there in, say, 1935, '36, that things were just going to keep on being bad, did you think things would get better?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Well, I, what I can remember about that was, that, I thought there was, I didn't think it was going to get better there, and I remember starting to try and to choose and find a place, some other place to go and live. I'll never forget, I could hear of a lot of railroad construction in Mississippi, and I was planning to go there. Before I got ready, and got myself planned to leave, I heard of work in California. There was two others I grew up with there that left and come here. One was named Robert Taylor, he was, my children's mother's uncle. The other was Henry Bayless, he was their mother's sister's husband.

INTERVIEWER:

So did they come back and tell you, or write to you?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

No, no, they just wrote back home, and the people would talk what they was doing, how much money they was making, so I made up my mind to come here.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

Did it sound like California might be better than what you were going through?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yes. Yes, it did.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

I remember you telling me before that your father wasn't real enthusiastic about you leaving.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

No he wasn't. That's something I'll never forget, growing up, I was the youngest of four sons, and I was obedient to him. He was used to it. Then, after I grew up and got married, I still looked to him to advise me, go to him and—so I went there and told him that I planned to leave and come to California. I had my time set, maybe a couple of, three weeks, so, I had to borrow my fare. I didn't borrow it from him, I had been getting a little money from him, this was going to be—fifty dollars is what I needed, and there was a man that run the gin uptown that I usually would go and get five and six dollars from. So I went to him, his name was Will Mart[?]. He's a tall, kind of senior fellow. I'll never forget the day I went there and told him that I wanted to borrow fifty dollars, I heard that they had jobs in California, and I was—and he let me have that money, I just think of it now and say it was just the Lord's blessing. He pulled it out of his pocket and counted it out to me, and I caught a bus.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 6
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me a little bit about the trip out, out to California.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. Yeah. Well now, on the trip, the bus was crowded, mixed with both, all races, and there was women and men, not, no children, I don't remember. So we just—

[sound of vacuum]
INTERVIEWER:

Hang on for a sec, stop for a sec, we just, we got—

[cut]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 7
[slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

Take three. Before you tell me what it was like coming out here on that crowded bus, tell me what you thought about before you left, in terms of what you hoped California would be like.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yes, one thing that I was real concerned and interested about, was what they was making per hour and day. As I was, just saying when I borrowed this money, my fare, from this gin man, he said something that I didn't never [sic] understand till after I'd got here. He told me, he says, when he let me have the money, he says, "Going to California," says, so he run his hand into his pocket and pulled it out and gave it to me, say, "Now don't go out there and get your head knocked off." So, [laughs] I didn't know exactly what he meant, but thinking about it later, he had heard about the racial difference there, and back there. On my way here and on the bus, it was crowded, and I'll never forget, there was a white lady sitting right next to me, and just above me was some young black fellas. One of them, when we got over the line into California, well, the first bus-stop, see, the bus-drivers called the name of the place, California, one of these guys says, "Well, we're in California, now. Y'all can, you guys can forget about being pushed around by these folks now, 'cause they don't do it out here." [laughs] He did a lot of talk, "None of that, yes sir, yes sir and no sir." I never will forget that. I said, "Well..."sure enough, when I got here, well, I found out what he meant. He had been here before. It was more friendly, so, I didn't see, there was, there wasn't too much fighting going on, but, of racial, but there was one fight I'll never forget about. It was my brother that was there when this happened. They was on the ship, and you know, there was stages, about four different stages going up, working on the ship, and this white, I don't know whether, he was a shipwright, I think, yeah, dropped his heavy wrench and it fell down aside of a black guy down on the next stage. And this guy, he was just overbearing, cussed and raised sand. That wrench had a hit me, I'd a climbed up there and invade you. Cussed him, you know, and if you don't like it, come on down. He said, "Well, I ain't had a fight in a long time, but I'm coming down." [laughs] He come down there and they hooked up fists and so, after they, some of the, one of the black guys say, "Well, let's stop them." So they ran in there and grabbed them and pulled them apart and stopped them. After everything was quieting down, I heard some of them ask this guy, a man sitting there, That was some fist  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] , who won it? Says, I don't know who won it, all I know, I don't wanna fight this, so-and-so no more. [laughs]

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QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, these incidents stick up, but what was it like working, I mean- the shipyards really brought white people and black people together in ways that they never had been.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

That's right, that's right.

INTERVIEWER:

What was that like?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

It was wonderful and peaceful, there wasn't no trouble at all. I was just so surprised, and glad of the way, you know—

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

Coming from Arkansas, had you expected something else, maybe?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Well, I would, you know, yeah, I wasn't expecting no trouble, but I wasn't expecting to find it as peaceful as it was.

[sound of airplane]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Can we wait for the plane?

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, OK, let's stop for a second. How are we on this magazine?

[cut]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 10
[slate marker visible on screen] [change to camera roll 318:48] [sound roll 318:24]
INTERVIEWER:

Take four. [coughs] Excuse me. Mr. Van Hook, tell me, tell me a little bit about how it worked, once, once you got to California on this bus, do you remember how it worked, what happened that first day when you went down to get your job?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yes, I remember what a crowd it was. I was in Berkeley, and I had been directed how to catch the streetcar and go to the shipyard, so I rode the streetcar to—

INTERVIEWER:

Could we start again, and, try not to look at the camera, OK, just look at me.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

OK, OK.

INTERVIEWER:

Tell me about ride, OK, you rode the streetcar—

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

—down there. What did you see when you got there, was [sic] there a lot of people there?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Lot of people. I mean, there was a lot of people, usually'd be a long line getting on the streetcar, [coughs] and then when I got to the shipyard, there was a long line being hired, but they was hiring people just like that, in a long line. All I knew was, I wanted a job in the shipyard. I remember when I [coughs] finally got up to the little window where the lady was, a young white lady, and she asked me, What yard do you want to go to? So, I didn't know what to tell her. I paused there, and she says, Yard three? I said, Well, that'll be all right. So she wrote me up for yard three, that was the best one. So, I went on to yard three, and there was a long line there, and so, when I got up to where she, she wanted to know what I wanted to do, I couldn't tell her, and she says, Well, you'll be a boiler-maker, you'll be a driller. So all right, she wrote me up as a driller, and that was the first job I had when I went in there.

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QUESTION 11
INTERVIEWER:

What was that job like? Tell me what the work would be.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, it was, drilling holes for the bolting, you know, and the driller and the chipper did about the same work. When you're drilling, you're running an air drill, drilling holes for bolts. Chipping was, you know, had that chipping kind of cut steel, you did both of them. So after I worked, I don't remember how long I was working, and they promoted me for a lead-man, in charge of the crew. So I thinks about it, and working hard, and being honest, and being timely, you know, that's what did that.

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QUESTION 12
INTERVIEWER:

Now, when you're a lead-man, your crew had a lot of different people on it, right?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

White folks and black folks.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, yeah, all kinds.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

How did they feel about someone like you being in charge of them?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Well, they didn't act no ways contrary at all. They would carry on just fine, I didn't have no problem like that.

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QUESTION 14
INTERVIEWER:

Do you think, do you think one of the reasons that people got along so well in the shipyard was this, this sense of patriotism, that everybody wanted to help win the War? Do you think that was part of it?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

I think, I remember, I believe it was.

INTERVIEWER:

It's hard for people to understand now how that, how strong that feeling was.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. Yeah, wasn't too much trouble in, like that, no racial problems. I don't remember any.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 15
INTERVIEWER:

How, how did it seem to you, once you'd been on the job, working there as opposed to what you remembered about life on the farm?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, that was so different. I had never had, like, a hundred dollars cash in my hand, you know, that I'd earned. So, I remember so well that after I worked, I don't remember how long I'd worked, maybe a few months, then made a trip back home. Me and my wife planned, then, when I come back, go to work and then send for them, she was going to come bring the children. So, that's what I did, I went back, went to work, and in a few days I sent her fare. She come, and brought the children [coughs]. So I carried her and another lady to the job, to the shipyard, they went right on in, went to work as welders, and me and her both was working on the same shift, and everything. That's when, we'd cash our checks up there on 23rd, we'd have, wasn't two hundred dollars, but it was over a hundred. Put in our pocket, it was a blessing, so we saved money like that.

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QUESTION 16
INTERVIEWER:

But you got to buy things for the first time too, right?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

At which?

INTERVIEWER:

You could go out and actually buy things, in the stores, too, right?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Oh yeah, sure.

INTERVIEWER:

What kinds of things would you get?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Well, uh, you know, I used could [sic] remember what was the first things we bought. We bought some furniture, all right, and bought some nice clothing, and that was quite a thrill to have a bank account. Something I hadn't had, you know.

INTERVIEWER:

People of, people—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Excuse me,  [ gap: ;reason: inaudible ] ?

INTERVIEWER:

Yes, I'm sorry?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Can we talk?

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah. You want to stop for a second?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Yeah.

[cut]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 17
[slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

Take five. Could you, could you speak a little louder, too, when we talk?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

OK.

INTERVIEWER:

I'm, I'm interested to know what Richmond was like, then. First of all, talk to me a little bit about finding housing, a place to stay.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, that was something that I heard—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

 [ gap: ;reason: inaudible ] 

INTERVIEWER:

Oops, are you OK?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Excuse me, can we start again? I'm sorry.

INTERVIEWER:

Are you, is he too close?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Well—

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, OK, sitting back  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] 

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

It's all right, he can lean forward—

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

Good, OK, go ahead. Yeah, yeah, all right, that's fine.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Is this a cut, or just—

INTERVIEWER:

No, no, we're going. OK, tell me about finding housing, how tough it was.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. It was a problem. That's what I heard before I left. My daddy, I never will forget what he said, he, I said I always used to believe in doing, taking orders from him, so I went up to his house and told him that I planned to go up to California. Then, when it got pretty close to the time I was fixing to leave, I was up there one day, and I talked with him a good while, and then I got ready to leave. I walked out, going down the hallway to leave, and he followed me, he went, come along with me, something he hadn't been doing. He told me, just before I got to the steps, he said, What I wanted to say to you is, I don't think you ought to go to California. He'd been used to me doing what he said, too. So, I don't remember what else was said, but I remember him saying that, and I left and went on home, but I didn't change my plan, no way. The day I had planned to leave, I left. I caught a bus there, and rode the bus all the way into Berkeley.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 18
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me about finding housing.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, yeah. Then, when I got to Berkeley, what I planned to do was to find these two fellas that was, left home. I was walking after I left the bus station on the streets, and I met two or three, and I asked them if they knew these fellas, and they'd tell me no. I remember the last person I met to ask about these fellas from home was a—

INTERVIEWER:

Look at me.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. There was a young black lady that, I stopped her and asked her, did she know them. She told me no, she didn't. So, we left, and walked on. Got maybe, hardly half a block, and she stopped and turned around and called me. She said, Did you, was you looking for a place to stay? And I thought I was going to find them, I remember, I started to tell her no, but I told her Well, yes, I could. She told me, On up there, two blocks, on the corner, and told me—

[camera cuts out, audio continues]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

—that house, says, you—

INTERVIEWER:

OK, hang on for a second, we've got—

[audio cuts out]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 19
[change to camera roll 318:49] [change to sound roll 318:25] [slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

Take six. Mr. Van Hook, let's start that story over, you're walking away from the woman, and tell me just when she calls you back, and says—

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. Yeah, that was, when I was needing a—

INTERVIEWER:

Don't forget, look at me.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. Housing, I needed a place to stay, and she asked me, You wanting to find a place to stay? I told her yeah, she told me how to go, where to go on up and the house to stop at. I went right on there, and I went in, and this was a senior lady. Her name was, they called her Mother Lily. So I went in, told her what I was there for and looking for a place to stay in. She told me, Well, I ain't got but this one room, and there's one man already that stays here, he's just out of the penitention [sic], and they had to find a place to stay before they would let him, and I let him come here. He's, he's in there, and if you wanted to, he's going to stay one night, if you want to, you'll have to sleep with him tonight. And he killed a man, and he's, I never did forget that, I had to sleep with that kind of person the first night I was in town, but he left the next day, and then I had that place there with Mother Lily. I was thinking about it, I ain't never forget, yeah, after I went to work, and wrote back home and news got out, my address and everything, for the next- well, I sent and got my brother and another friend- but for the next two or three trips from home, the guys would come there. It was on Carton Street, in Berkeley. But as you spoke about the housing situations, the projects wasn't finished, they was working on them in 1943. So, they would, they told us in the shipyard, says, You get a blank here and fill it out and put it in for your housing, but they'd tell you, you may not get one for six months or more. So I got a paper and filled it out for a house, or, I mean, for a rental place. It was just a blessing, it wasn't over three weeks, when my time-card, when I got it one morning, they had a little note on there, You got an apartment on South 25th Street. It was a three bedroom, so I went there, and was there for, oh, I wasn't there too long before there was some—I sent and got my brother, they [sic] was there with me. I never will forget the night, I was working swing shift, they come in while I was away from [sic] work, and show you what the difference is now, then, you didn't have to lock your door and my door was unlocked. When I come in from work, from the swing shift, there was two guys laying up in my bed, my brother and, so [coughs] I took them, and they went to work, and they were staying there with me. Then there was two more couples come from home, and they come there, and they just crowded me out. So, I sent and got my family, they come, and, so then I had to clear out all the others, you know. My wife, she got a job, and we worked there. Then, later on, I put in for a bigger apartment, and I got another apartment over on State Street. It had, was it four bedrooms, I believe. Anyway, I moved from there over on State Street.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me something, when, when you made trips home and spread the word, what did people think back in Arkansas, how you were doing?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Oh yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

How'd they react?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

There was this, and that just triggered off others coming, they'd just come to California then. They would, like I said, they would come to my apartment, they had my address, so I would help them, go to the shipyard with them and try to find them a place to stay, you know. It was a big thrill to me to, to not to have to use that hammer down there, I got promoted to give the orders, you know. There was, I remember when that happened. One night, I wasn't expecting it, but when you was on the job, there was a speaker, a loudspeaker if there was anyone working there that had some  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ]  or anything, they had to call them, they'd call your name. So they called my name on the loudspeaker, Lewis Napoleon Van Hook, come to the office. There's some news for you. I didn't know what it was, so I took off, and went on there, and the, little lady grabbed some sheet of paper and shoved them out there, says, Fill that out, put your name, and put that out there, says, You've been promoted to a leader man. So I filled it out. So, the next day, they, I went to the yard and this superintendent, he  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ]  me and showed me where to go and gave me the list of the men that was going to be working under me, and from then on that's what I did, I just, you know, give them orders.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

Did you ever think when you were back on the farm in Arkansas, that all that that would happen?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

No, I sure didn't, I wasn't expecting nothing like that. It was quite a blessing. Like I said, I wasn't used to that kind of money, but this old man, that loaned me that money, I paid him, sent him, mailed him his money. Well, when I first went back home is when I paid him, when I went and carried it to him, carried him. I remember my dad, he didn't, he told me, said, You don't have to pay it all at once, maybe, you can, but I just went on and paid it all.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 22
INTERVIEWER:

Now, you told me that later on, in fact, your dad, who had thought it wasn't a great idea for you to come, that he came out himself.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. Yeah, he-

INTERVIEWER:

Tell me about that.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, well, he, he told that day he didn't think I would come, but I come on, I didn't change my schedule at all, I come on, went to work, and then...I remember, after I went back home, and my family was here, I stayed in touch with them. My mother wrote me a letter, and told me that they wanted to see us, we'd been away from home long enough, she, they thought we ought to come home, they wanted to see us. So, I had a, I bought me a new pickup truck, and my brother had a '39 model Chevrolet, so we got together and decided we wanted to drive home. So we did, me and his, his kids was small, and mine, some of mine was, so we drove home and visit [sic] my dad and mother, and they did decide that they wanted to come back with us. So, they got in his car with him. So we brought them back home and brought them back here. They stayed with me first, and, I had an old friend of mine, I was a barber then, I'd been cutting his hair [coughs]. He come and got his—

[camera cuts, audio continues]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

—hair cut one day, and he asked me, says, Is all of your brothers—

INTERVIEWER:

OK, stop—

[audio cuts out]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 23
[change to camera roll 318:50] [sound roll 318:25] [slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

Take seven. Mr. Van Hook, Susan was just asking you before we started, tell me about, about when you had to join the Union, what was that about?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. [coughs] Well, when I first went to work in the shipyard, there wasn't no union, they didn't have mention there, but, I don't remember how long it was before this boiler-maker union came in, and we had to join it. I don't remember what it cost, or nothing like that. All I remember is, the boiler-maker union is what you had to get in from then on to get a job. I stayed with it, after I left the shipyard.

INTERVIEWER:

You stayed in the Union?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Stayed.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 24
INTERVIEWER:

Now, we've heard that during that period, if a person like yourself joined the boiler-makers, you had to join what was called an auxiliary union, that you couldn't be part of the main union.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yes, I can slightly remember some of that. There was some problems, all right, with that, but I can slightly remember that it ended up, and we didn't, wasn't worried with it no more after they told us, wouldn't be bothered with that problem no more.

INTERVIEWER:

Well, some people were pretty upset about it, some people didn't want to do that.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. Yeah, that's right.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 25
INTERVIEWER:

But you told me before that, it was, that being here and having the job meant so much that that other stuff didn't matter. Is that true?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Oh yeah, yeah. I'm telling you, after having a job and making the kind of money I was making, it was...because I want to tell you about my dad, this friend of mine asked me, was all of my brothers working and all, told him yeah. Said, Well, I knew a place where I could get him a job, and so I thought about my dad, told him about my daddy, he tel-, told me where to bring him to. So he carried him to yard one, to the paint department, and they gave him a job of just doing some cleaning work around the painting places. Good job for, and so I just thought about, not only surprised to get him here, and then got him here and got him a job. He worked there and made, saved some money out of that.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 26
INTERVIEWER:

So was the job much more important than the union problems, or...?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Well, yes, you know, them union problems, you know, I remembered, but I done forgot just what happened, I should of never [sic] forget that.

INTERVIEWER:

Well, it sounds like it wasn't as important as the other stuff.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

No, it wasn't.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 27
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me something now, tell me, I know your family had been musical and your father had been a music teacher, tell me how you started the group, the singing group-

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

The singing group. Yeah. Yeah, well, I—let's see, me and my brother, when we left home, had a quartet, so, after he got here with me, me and him and one more young fella from home, we started doing some singing in the apartment there. We wound up getting four voices, what we needed in a quartet, and we had a way of rehearsing nearly every night, when we'd get together there. So, being a barber and cutting hair too, there's always some guys coming in, so there was another fella that come in and heard us sing, and he, he was a good singer, he joined in with us.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 28
INTERVIEWER:

How did you choose that name, how did you become known as "The Singing Shipyarders"?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. Yeah, well, this fella, I done forgot his name too, but he was in the office at the radio, and he give [sic] us that name.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 29
INTERVIEWER:

Were you all working at the yards?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, yeah, we was all working in the shipyards. When we got started—on some nights in the shipyard, they would take an hour, a couple hours for partying, and I told some of them there at the party one night, that I had a group of singers, so they told me so, You bring them here, we want to hear them sing. So, I got them there one night and they heard us sing- yeah, that, that man was named J. P. Horns, he was the manager in the office for the radio.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 30
INTERVIEWER:

Your son was telling me that, that you'd sometimes be singing at the yards, and people would stop what they doing [sic] or even stop fighting, and come-

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

Tell me that story.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, they, I mean, when we was singing in the yards, they, usually when you get a crowd thataway, and they wasn't working, they would get crossed up and maybe have a little misunderstanding, fights, but I guess them songs would have an effect on the feelings of them. It was just peaceful, they wasn't no trouble. Yeah, they—so we, we needed a bass singer, I just said it was the good Lord. We needed a bass singer, and one night we were singing, and this guy, I don't know whether he come there to get a haircut or why he was there, but he heard us.

INTERVIEWER:

Go ahead.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

And he—

INTERVIEWER:

And cut.

[cut]
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QUESTION 31
[slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

Mr. Van Hook, I got a sort of a general question about living through those times, through the Depression and those war years, what did you think about what Franklin Roosevelt had done for the country? What did you feel about him?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Well, yeah, I felt that he had—

INTERVIEWER:

Would you say, 'I felt that Franklin Roosevelt', so we know who you're talking about?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

Go ahead.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Being that far back, there's some things I can't remember, you know, good, but I remember thinking well of him, what he did, the way he did. Well—

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 32
INTERVIEWER:

When you look back at that period, do you look back at it as, as bad times or good times? How do you see it now?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah, when I look back at that, it, it was a...some bad times. Yeah.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 33
INTERVIEWER:

But, are there any good memories? When you think about the good things, what—

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah. Yes...during them days, it was some good, some good days that we enjoyed.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 34
INTERVIEWER:

Did you, did you, did you ever regret that decision, coming out to California?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

No. No, I didn't, I always called it a blessing. That's the way I felt about it, ever since I left and came here. I felt that it was, the way, way it turned out, my dad didn't agree for it [sic] [coughs]. I left so long, he was, come on out here himself and the whole family was here, and been here ever since, and I just think it was an extra blessing that led me and taught me into coming here.

[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 35
INTERVIEWER:

Did you ever have any friends that decided this wasn't for them, and went back, or did everyone stay?

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Well, I had some, some that went back way years later, but not, no.

INTERVIEWER:

 [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] 

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

No.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, let's cut. Do you have any other questions-

[cut]
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QUESTION 36
[change to camera roll 318:51] [change to sound roll 318:26] [slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

—Lord', Van Hook music, take one. Hang on for a second,  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] . OK, whenever you're ready.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

OK.

[Lewis Van Hook plays the piano, sings "Precious Lord"]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

OK.

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand I'm tired, I'm weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through night, Lead me home to the light, Take my hand, precious lord, lead me home.

When my way grow drear, precious Lord, linger near, When my life is almost gone Hear my cry, hear my call, Hold my hand, lest I fall, Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When that shadow does appear, when the darkness is near, When the day is almost gone, At the river I stand, Guide my feet, hold my hand, Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, and I am worn. Hear my cry, hear my call, Hold my hand lest I fall, Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

INTERVIEWER:

OK.

[cut]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 37
[slate marker visible on screen]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Ready.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, this is Lewis Van Hook, take ten, 'Come and Go With Me'.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Ready?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

One second,  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] . OK.

[Lewis Van Hook plays piano and sings "Come and Go With Me"]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Come and let's go, to that land Come and let's go, to that land, Come and let's go, to that land, Where I'm bound.

Come and let's go, to that land, Come and let's go, to that land, Come and let's go, to that land, Where I'm bound.

Peace and happiness, in that land, Peace and happiness, in that land, Peace and happiness, in that land, Where I'm bound.

Peace and happiness, in that land, Peace and happiness, in that land, Peace and happiness, in that land, Where I'm bound.

Come and let's go, to that land, Come and let's go, to that land, Come and let's go, to that land, Where I'm bound.

Come and let's go, to that land, Come and let's go, to that land, Come and let's go, to that land, Where I'm bound.

There is joy in that land, There is joy in that land, There is joy in that land, Where I'm going.

There is joy in that land, There is joy in that land, There is joy in that, There is joy in that land, Where I'm bound.

Don't you want to go to that land, Don't you want to go to that land, Don't you want to go to that land, Where I'm bound?

Don't you want to go to that land, Don't you want to go to that land, Don't you want to go to that land, Where I'm bound?'

INTERVIEWER:

That's good.

[cut]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 38
[slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

OK, this is called, "If You See My Savior," we're starting with the second verse.

[Lewis Van Hook plays guitar and begins to sing, but breaks off after a moment.]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

'Yes-' Wait a minute.

INTERVIEWER:

It's OK, it's OK.

[Lewis Van Hook resumes playing and singing "If You See My Savior"]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Yeah.

You may have to make this journey on without me, Yes, a debt that soon or late it must be paid, When you reach that golden city, think about me, Don't forget to tell my Savior what I said.

If you see my Savior, tell him that you saw me, When you saw me, I was on my way, You may see some old friends who may ask you for me, Tell them I am coming home someday.

If you see my Savior, tell him that you saw me, When you saw me, I was on my way. You may see some old friends who may ask you, Tell them I am coming home someday.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, let's cut. Now, what would you—

[cut]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 39
[slate marker visible on screen]
INTERVIEWER:

This is the second version of "If You See My Savior", starting with "You may have to make this journey." Go ahead.

[Lewis Van Hook plays "If You See My Savior" again.]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

'You may have to make this journey on without me, Yes, a debt that sooner or late it must be paid, When you reach that golden city, think about me, Don't forget to tell my Savior what I said.

If you see my Savior, tell him that you saw me, When you saw me, I was on my way. You may see some old friends who may ask you for me, Tell them I am coming home, someday.

INTERVIEWER:

One more chorus.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

One more?

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, one more. Yeah.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

One more.

INTERVIEWER:

Give me the chorus one more time.

[Lewis Van Hook sings the chorus from "If You See My Savior"]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

If you see my Savior, tell him that you saw me, When you saw me, I was on my way. You may see some old friend who may ask you for me, Tell them I am coming home, someday.

INTERVIEWER:

Good.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

 [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] 

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

[coughs] I can't get—

[cut]
[missing figure]BkV7gAsH9hc
QUESTION 40
[slate marker visible on screen] [change to camera roll 318:52] [change to sound roll 318:27]
INTERVIEWER:

OK.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Marker.

INTERVIEWER:

Van Hook, take thirteen, guitar duet.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

One second.

INTERVIEWER:

Hang on, let him get settled, and I'll tell you when.

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Mm-hm.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Have him look this way, too.

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, everybody's playing towards me, you're playing for-

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Yeah, right over here, look at my fist,  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] , look at my-

LEWIS VAN HOOK:

OK, OK.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

OK, anytime.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, go ahead.

[Lewis Van Hook begins to play guitar duet with his brother Clarence Van Hook.]
INTERVIEWER:

OK, we've got about  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] .

[Lewis and Clarence Van Hook come to end of duet.]
LEWIS VAN HOOK:

Phew.

[applause] [cut]
[end of interview]